17-year-old migrant killed in shootout at sea with Greek police

A 17-year-old migrant was killed during a shootout at sea between Greek port police and human smugglers, the government said.

This was even as seven other immigrants died on Sunday when their boat sank off Libya’s al-Khoms coast, according to the Libyan red crescent.

“A serious incident occurred off the island of Symi when a yacht carrying 70 migrants from Turkey’s western shores tried to illegally enter (Greek waters),” the marine ministry said in a statement.

Greek port police and officials from the EU border agency Frontex managed to halt and board the boat.

Shots were fired during scuffles between the police and three Turkish suspected people smugglers, the ministry said.

One of the suspected smugglers, who were all arrested, admitted to injuring an officer after grabbing his pistol, the statement added.

The dead migrant was “probably killed by gunfire”, a doctor at Symi health centre was quoted as saying.

An investigation into his death has been launched. No details on his origin were given.

Marine Minister Christos Zois expressed sadness over the youth’s death while praising the police for their “daily struggle in difficult conditions to aid migrants”.

Greece is struggling to cope with the arrival of unprecedented numbers of people seeking refuge in Europe, mostly asylum-seekers fleeing wars in the Middle East and Asia.

Over 160,000 migrants have landed on Greece’s shores so far this year.

Meanwhile, reports have been received about seven bodies of illegal immigrants that washed ashore in Al-Khoms city, said Mohamed Al-Misrati, spokesman of the Libyan red crescent. No further details about the number of the immigrants on board are available, said Al-Misrati.

The tragedy comes after a boat sank on Thursday off of Western Libya’s Zuwarah coast with 400 migrants on board while on its way to Europe. Nearly 200 illegal immigrants are feared dead.

Over 100 bodies washed ashore, including women and children, and 198 migrants have been rescued, according to the Libyan coast guards.

Libya has fallen in a state of anarchy and insecurity since the fall and death of its former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, making the north African country a preferred point of transit for immigrants who want to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that around 150,000 migrants have reached Europe by sea by mid July in 2015, many of whom departed from Libya. 

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